I am Donald Pointer's granddaughter, Lisa's daughter. I created this site to share the memories of my Granpa with everyone. Come look around and share with us your memories of him as well!
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
DONALD DALE POINTER AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Started compiling 23 February 2000
These are just a few that things that I remember from the past as I go along:
I was born on the family farm five miles north east of Collins, Iowa in Story County. Also it was approximately three miles west of Rhodes Iowa. It is now the southwest eighty acres of Hendrickson Marsh. I was born at home and the attending physician was Dr. L. F. Richardson from Collins, Iowa.(Correction I do not remember the preceding sentences those were passed on to me) I was the seventh living member of a family of eight living, one a twin brother to Wayne was still born. Following are the family’s birth and the ones that are deceased dates Mildred Pointer Triplett 4-18-1907 to 2-12-1991, Ramah Pointer Myers 8-5-1908 to 6-27-75, Harold L. Pointer 4-23-1911 to 3-20-1968, Glen R. Pointer 1913 to 1993,Lester L. Pointer 11-26-1915 to 10- 14-1942 Dwayne Pointer 5-21-1918 Still born, Wayne H. Pointer 5-21-1918 lost in action in WW11 1943 ??, Donald D. Pointer 9-8-1920 and Forrest R. Pointer 4-3-1924. Since this writing Forrest R. Pointer died January 10, 2007.
What I remember about my dad is very vague. I remember, the day that he was killed. I was looking out of the kitchen window down towards the barn and a big car pulled up a man in a big bearskin coat got out and went over toward the barn and was talking to my oldest brother Harold who was doing chores and I remember Mom saying something like I wonder if something has happened to dad. The man I later learned was Vern Hackler who in later years I became pretty well acquainted with , but I never remember discussing this with him. He was driving down the road and spotted my dad lying on or by the fence, and upon stopping and checking he found he was dead. It was bitter cold that day and as I remember dad had cattle in the cornstalk ground across the road and when he went to bring them in for the night he took the twenty two rifle along in case he kicked up a rabbit. He had on a big bearskin coat and heavy gloves. When he went to set the rifle across the fence before he crawled over it the rifle slipped through his hands , when the butt of the rifle hit the frozen ground it discharged and the bullet went right up through his chin into his brain killing him instantly. Other wise I don’t remember much about him. I guess with eight kids he was probably too busy trying to make a living to spend any fun time with us. I don’t remember very much about Mildred and Ramah being at home either, but they must have been, because I think that Ramah graduated from high school in 1927. Have to check that out when I get home. It might have been 1926 but even so I would have been five years old. I do remember one time when dad cranked up the old model T ford and went somewhere but wouldn’t take me with him and it broke my heart I really did bawl. Also I remember that once he took me with him to Rhodes in that old Model T ford and just before you got to Rhodes there was a big long steep hill. In those days the roads didn’t cut into the hills like they do now they just followed the terrain, like up and over the hills, if they couldn’t go around them. The old fords didn’t have a fuel pump on them and the gas tank was under the seat and if the gas tank wasn’t almost full the gas would not feed into the carburetor and thus it stalled about three fourth’s of the way up the hill. He had to turn it around on that old rough and rutty dirt road on that steep hill side and back it the rest of the way up. By backing up the hill the gas tank was above the carburetor therefore the gas would feed into the carburetor and the car would run, and this scared the hell right out of me. As I remember it was a 1917 Model T I think that dad bought it used. Matter of fact I know it was used, because back in those days every thing that we bought was used. It had a fold down top and side curtains originally. There was no battery in it and of course you had to crank it by hand and it started better if you jacked up one of the rear wheels and threw the emergency brake forward, that put it in high gear. Then after it started there was the problem of getting it out of gear and letting the jack down and trying to keep it from running over you or running away, neither one was an uncommon occurrence. It took some fancy footwork to let the jack down, throw it in the car, jump in car and get under the steering wheel before it run into or over something. I only remember once of going somewhere at night in that Model T the lights were very dim and I liked it when we came to a hill or turned a corner he would put it in low gear and the lights would really brighten up. It only had two gears forward, low and high. The lights and ignition were powered by a magneto. Perhaps that was the night we went into town and attended the first movie that I ever saw it was a black and white silent and the name of it was The Covered Wagon. It was shown in the Collins High School auditorium. My uncle Dan Bear who lived south of Rhodes had a 1921 Motel T Ford and I thought that it was really neat it had a starter on it was shiny black with a top and side curtains. Speaking of movies the first talking picture I saw I guess was in the mid 1930’s was Seven Keys To Ballpate the reason we went to see that was that the Circle Theater in Nevada, Iowa sent out free tickets advertising the new talking pictures. I don’t remember when I saw my first color movie.
To continue reading click here. Part #2 - Fishin' and Fun
We used to make fish hooks out of chicken wire, find some string, cut a willow pole, dig worms behind the chicken house and walk barefooted on the hot gravel and dirt roads a mile and a half over to the old county ditch and go fishing. The county ditch went dry every year and no one thought there were any fish in it but that didn’t stop us kids from fishing , we thought that where there was water there was fish, and we did catch some pretty good bull heads there. The word leaked out that there were fish in that ditch and some guys, probably from Rhodes, came out one night and seined it out with a net and it was a lot longer between bites after that for the rest of that summer. That ditch has since been damned up east of the bridge and is now known as Henderson Marsh. Seining was illegal back then as it is now but that didn’t seem to matter. We took along halve gallon mason fruit jars to carry our bullheads home in water to keep them alive. The fish had to be cleaned and fried immediately because with no refrigeration we had no way of keeping them . We cleaned them dipped them in flour and fried them in lard and boy did they ever taste good. I doubt if they were that good we were just hungry. We never had any money to buy store bought toys. We had to make what we played with out of stuff laying around and in the junk pile. Back then everybody had a junk pile. I have still got a junk pile or two and it would hard for me to function without one. When Lester was still around we had an old buggy running gears with a couple of two by fours for a frame that we pushed around a lot .We would push it up the hills get it going good and jump on it and coast down them. Lester was the strongest so he laid on the buggy reach ( two hardwood and metal pieces that hooked the rear axle and the front axle together) and steered it. Glen was the mechanic of the bunch and he rigged us up a chain and sprocket and mounted an old stationary gas engine on it, but it wasn’t successful and a good thing too because there was no way of controlling the speed nor putting it in and out of gear you had to run along beside it and crank the engine. Lucky for us that it didn’t work because if it had started and the chain stayed on, it had all of the makings of a disaster, like a bunch of really busted up kids. Glen also made a tractor out of a Model T Ford chassis, two old grain binder wheels and an old 1926 Chevrolet transmission. He set the old chevy transmission behind the model T transmission and when you put both transmissions in reverse it went forward at a very slow pace. It was really an ingenious piece of work for the tools etc. that he had to work with. I think that it pulled the walking plow about twenty feet. Not practical but never the less it was a great accomplishment. One of the old binder wheels we had the other one he and Lester went about a mile back through the swamp, that joined our pasture, to an old abandoned farm stead took the wheel off an old junk grain binder and carried rolled and drug it back home. The old grain binders were ground driven and the wheel that powered them had lugs on it and was called the bull wheel a binder only had one bull wheel so that is why the boys had to come up with another one. That fete in its self was very strenuous task. Beings the tractor was not practical for more reasons than one, one we didn’t have fifteen cents to buy a gallon of gas, and he could not come up with a good functional universal joint to connect the chevy transmission to the ford differential, The model T was then converted from a tractor back to a model T chassis. I think that Glen (Pete) was probably hiring out some by then so he no had a little money to buy his own gas for the family car, a 1929 Model A Ford, which he would siphon out to use in the Model T. For us younger boys to siphon gas out of the car was a no no. Chances are there never was over two gallon in it anyway. At that time top wages for working was a dollar a day. At one time a guy in town borrowed the old Model T chassis from us took it in and put hoops over it, instead of roll bars and used it to play auto polo with at a fourth of July celebration. Instead of using horses they used old car chassis and they played it on the street. I don’t think that the game ever caught on because I don’t ever remember hearing about it again. About the last I remember of the old Model T was when I came charging down the hill from our house to the barn, sitting on the gas tank which was very slick and just before you got to the barn you had to make a sharp turn or run broadside into the barn. I made the turn but in the process I fell off and the rear wheel ran over me. It missed the barn and went putting along until it ran into the side of a wagon . There it came to a sudden halt with a bashed up radiator. It didn’t hurt me much just skinned me up a little. It bruised up my ego more than anything else. Glen happened to be watching and he thought it was hilarious.
To continue reading click here. Part #3 - Chores and Livestock
To continue reading click here. Part #3 - Chores and Livestock
All of the play and fun stuff had to be done in the afternoon, because in the morning we had our chores to do, like mine was to milk two cows , by hand of course, help carry the milk up to the house and down in the cellar to be run through the cream separator. The skimmed milk then had to be carried back down to the barn to feed the calves and if there was enough some of it went into the hog slop barrel. We had an old DeLeValve cream separator, that’s probably not the way you spell that, that turned so hard that Harold and Glen were the only ones that could crank it us younger boys didn’t have enough stout to keep the RPM’s up. As I recall after they left home we had to get a different cream separator. A used one no doubt. We had various other chores to do like feed the horses grain and hay. Then after we got the chores done and breakfast ate me and one of the other boys if there was one available and I ( I was always elected) would head the cows out so they could graze along the road. I think that we had a three hour time limit that we had keep them out there. That was referred to as herding the cows. We had about fifteen cows as I recall . You had to know how many you had because you had to do a head count pretty regular like to see if none of them had sneaked off when we weren’t looking. In those days the roads were all fenced so we had to keep the old cows from going into the neighbors farm yards and an occasional open gate. After about a week the old cows pretty much herded themselves they knew about where they could go and how far, but even so they were always testing you to see if you knew. It was a very boring job about the only thing we had to do was throw rocks at the insulators on the telephone poles and I don’t ever recall hitting one and breaking it. One bonus was that there were a few wild strawberry patches along the road and boy were they ever delicious. Even that required some doings, maneuvering those old cows around our strawberry patches, but we usually managed to keep the patches intact most of the time. An occasional car would go by and the people would almost always wave and usually shout a greeting at us. In those days the cars were only traveling twenty to thirty miles an hour and with the windows down. No air conditioning in those days. Once in a while someone would stop and visit with us. I guess that was a plus, for in those days, people didn’t seem to be in such a big rush as they seem to be now days and they had time to stop and visit a little and be neighborly. Had I not been so shy I probably would have had more people stop and visit me. We had one place where there was a swimming hole and we could jump in for a quick dip and herd cattle at the same time. One of us had to stay in sight of those old cows at all times however, because if they thought you weren’t looking two or three of them ornery old critters would get out in the road and head out never towards home either and then we would have run after them. We always had our swim suits with us (that was our skin). We always had to go bare foot no under wear, just a pair of bib overalls ,that were full of holes, and a badly worn shirt and that was it. That was mixing pleasure with work. The problem with our swimming hole was that when we got a heavy rain it would fill up with silt and would only be about a foot deep. When that happened we would spend a lot of time and effort trying to dam up the ditch and that was wasted effort because our dams always washed out before we could get much water behind them. I guess we weren’t very good engineers. Then we would have to wait for another heavy rain to wash the hole out again and sometimes that was a long time. Anyway that is where I learned to swim. That is a mile west of the fishing hole, the same county ditch. I think that the worst and the hardest job of all was that every afternoon or evening we had to pump water for all of those cattle and four head of horses and five or six sheep by hand. The old pump like everything else we had was worn out and pumped very hard and run about a half of a stream of water. I remember Wayne and I would take turns. He would pump a hundred strokes and then I would pump a hundred strokes. It seemed like and endless task. We would get the tank about full and here would come all the cows and horses and they would about empty the tank and man that was really discouraging. In the early spring when we had gotten a lot of rain we got a little relief, because our pasture was mostly swamp land so the cows got some water down there. Our fences weren’t the best and during the summer months a very disheartening thing to hear was, the cows are in the corn. Those were certainly discouraging words. It meant that we had to get them out of the field pronto because if they ate too much of it that would kill them. So we spent a lot of time running those suckers back through a gate because there was no way that they could go back the way they came in. Then we had to try and cobble the fence back up. We had one or two old cows that with our fences it was almost impossible to keep them out of the corn once they got started. And of course they always cut their tits up going through the fence and that made them sore so they would kick the hell out of you when you were milking them. We had one big old roan cow that seemed to think that a fence was made to go through. Glen had just spent about a week rebuilding our cow lot fence and he had really done a good job. He happened to look out and there that roan cow had worked her head between the top barbed wire and the woven wire and was reaching out into the corn field. She was big enough that she could bust her way through the fence once she got her head through it and she was real good at it too. So Glen just went and got the old sixteen gauge shotgun and let her have it in the rump. He was far enough away that the buckshot didn’t penetrate her hide but man it sure must have smarted. She went right on through the fence all right and he went and opened the gate and she came back in the lot. We had that cow for several years after that and she never went through a fence again. We never had much trouble with cows getting out after that. She was a nice gentle old cow otherwise. I used to get on her back and ride her through the mud hole in the pasture when I went down to get the cows. She didn’t seem to mind but I had to get on the first try, because she was on the move, she didn’t stop to let me get on either She was not real easy to stay on because a cow isn’t the easiest thing to ride. We had an old buck sheep that thought he was a cow and he always went with them. I used to get on him and ride but not very far because he had a really tough time with his short legs keeping up with the cows anyway, and I felt sorry for him. Of course us boys always teased him and you didn’t dare turn your back on him or he would butt you into the next county. He was good at attacking you from the rear and if he did get you from the rear you knew you had been hit, it would nearly unjoint you. If you saw him coming you could side step him, you had to do him like a bull fighter does wait until he was in his last jump then side step otherwise he could correct his aim and get you, and when he missed you that really agitated him. Also he would stand beside you very nonchalantly and wham he would give his famous side butt and that also packed a good wallop. That was his surprise butt because you never knew when it was coming, He would sneak up on us sometimes when we didn’t know he was around and get revenge. If I remember right he did that to some of our unsuspecting visitors, that we hadn’t bothered to warn about him. Needless to say most of our regular visitors kept an eye out for him. We had people come that wouldn’t get out of their car unless some of us was around. I remember one time that he got me and got me real good. I was carrying a bushel basket full of ear corn and he hit me from the rear and I thought he killed me . There he was standing there looking down at me as if to say, so there to I got you that time. Even now as I am writing this I am chuckling. I had forgotten old Buck years ago.
To continue reading click here. Part #4 - Bill the Goat
Lester came home from a visit one time with Mildred and her kids in Minnesota with a young billy goat in the hatch or trunk of his 1929 Ford Coupe in some sort of a crate. That was Bill the goat. Agile and mischievous he definitely he was. One time we left a ladder on our double corn crib and Wayne looked up and there Bill was standing astraddle the peak of the roof looking down at him at least twenty five foot in the air. We didn’t know how to get him down so I guess we figured he would figure out a way. He did he just walked down to the lowest part at the eaves that was about eight high and jumped down. He did the same thing one time on the house when we had a ladder up on it. He could climb a ladder but he couldn’t go down one. He got up on everything that he could. That included cars which made him very unpopular around home. It didn’t do much for finish on the car fenders, hoods and roofs when he jumped up on them and walked around. That is probably the reason we didn't go get him when he decided to take up residence at the neighbors. I guess that you might say that we didn’t renew his lease. He would open the gate and let the calves out so he could run and frolic with them, like jumping clear over the top of them. Of course he too was a great butter, however his butts didn’t have the jolt nor compare with old Buck’s. Old buck, the sheep, hated Bill with a passion, because he was so quick and agile the he couldn’t get near him. He really tormented that poor old buck sheep, old Buck would just stand around and grit his teeth which was what he did when he was annoyed at something. No doubt his was thinking I’ll get you sooner or later you young smart aleck. Us kids had a great time playing with that ornery son of a gun, he followed us around like a dog and if you set down he was always poking you gently with a horn or butting at you. He liked to follow the horses and wagon like a dog too. That was the thing that ended up spelling his doom. One day he followed Harold with the team of horses and wagon and he decided to stop off at a neighbor a mile north of us where he decided to take up residence. The neighbor got in touch with us but we decided that he was getting too much for us, so another neighbor took him and turned him into goat meat. So that was the end of Bill the goat. We also had a younger buck sheep I guess he didn’t have a name. Old Buck and him would spend hours backing up about thirty feet and crashing head on into each other like the Big Horn sheep do. Sometimes the younger buck would go down to his knees but he would just shake his head and get up and do it again. I remember Mom had some visitors one time and they asked her what that thudding noise was. Oh that’s just the sheep fighting Mom said. Lester was always coming home with some different kind of animals, he had four or five white domestic ducks and six or eight domestic mallard ducks. The times when the ducks were not popular was when they decided to use the livestock water tank for their swimming pool, riling up the settlings in the bottom of the tank plus leaving a bunch of feathers etc. behind. The livestock wouldn’t drink until the dirt etc settled. He also came home one time with three or four Guinea fowls. They were supposed to be tame but they were really wild. They looked like gray hump backed chickens and made a lot of noise, flew to the top of the barn and roosted at night in the tops of some big tall maple trees in our grove. I would guess those trees to be about eighty feet tall.
To continue reading click here. Part #5 - More Chores and Wash Day
Another task that I dearly hated comes to mind. Before I was old enough to milk cows or was assigned to milking anyway. My guess is that there was still enough older boys around to do the milking . I used to have to carry in corn cobs and wood to keep the old wood burning kitchen range going the next day. If I couldn’t find enough small wood , about a three inch in diameter was the max you could use, then I would have to try and split some with an axe. Grandpa used to say that I was too light in the poop to swing an axe. That wood and cob box had to be full before you quit too or back you went until it was full. On Monday, washday, the water had to be pumped by hand carried into the house in three gallon buckets poured in the boiler on top of the stove and heated. It was then carried out to the back porch where it was poured into an old hand cranked worn out washing machine, bought seconded of course, into which mom slivered up some of her home made soap, some times she just used the wash board. Sometimes she could get one of us boys to crank it but I think most of the time she did the cranking herself. You was supposed to crank it so many minutes or until you got tired of cranking I think. The clothes were then run threw and old hand cranked ringer into a tub of rinse water, which got pretty sudsy before all of the clothes were washed, from there out to the old clothes line. Getting clothes dry in the winter always turned into a quite a task. First they were hung on the clothes line until they were frozen stiff then brought inside and hung all over the house. We didn’t need a humidifier that was for sure. Mom also always baked bread on Monday also. While the wash water was heating she could use the heat that was accumulating in the oven to bake her bread. So energy conservation isn’t some thing new. It was going on way back then.
In the fall of the year we always butchered three or four hogs. They always waited until the weather cooled because of no refrigeration. Then came the task of curing the hams and shoulders and preparing the meat to keep it from spoiling. The hams and shoulders used to be done by what was called sugar cured which was brown sugar, salt, red pepper, and salt peter and that is all of the ingredients that I remember. After I got big enough to help mom prepare the meat they had come up with a cure I think they called smoked salt cure. As I remember we hand rubbed that smoked salt mixture into the hams then coated them with a thick covering of it then wrapped them in brown paper put them in a flour sack and hung them in the old cellar. That old cellar was really a scary place the outside entrance was closed up to keep the cold north wind from blowing under the house so the only access to it was through a trap door in the closet in the downstairs bedroom. There was no ladder to get down there . You had to step on a ledge and then let yourself down hanging on to the floor or whatever you could get a hold of. It was several years before I was tall enough to get down there by myself, you also had to take a kerosene lantern down with you because it was pitch black down there. In later years it didn’t look nearly as scary to me, matter of fact it wasn’t scary at all. Also the side meat was done the same way making it into bacon. That meat would keep until next year. Most of it was wolfed down by us hungry guys long before it had a chance to spoil. Some of the meat was canned in mason fruit jars, some made into sausage. The fat was rendered into lard. That meant boiling the fat until it turned into liquid then straining it and you then had all liquid which was then let cool and it become semi solid and that was lard. That which was strained off skin etc and other fat that wasn’t used for lard was put in a big iron kettle and a fire built under it with some Lewis Lye added and boiled real good. It was then left to cool down for a day or so and a scum about three inches thick formed on top. That was the laundry and dish soap. It had to be cut into hunks and let dry for several days before it was useable. I guess you might say that it had to be aged.
Mom used to go to Marshalltown, one of the boys had to take her she didn’t drive, usually in August before school started and get each one of us school age boys two new pair of bib overalls, two blue work shirts, two pair of socks and a pair of shoes. Under wear I don’t remember. One outfit we wore all week while the other outfit was in for laundry. The new clothes were to wear to school and as soon as we got home from school we had to change into our work clothes which were last years school clothes. And believe you me by the time the year was up those clothes were nothing but seams, patches and holes. By the time school was out our shoes were pretty well shot or we had outgrown them or both so we had to go barefoot. And to this day I don’t like to go barefooted. My dress clothes were all hand me downs like knee pants and black socks with holes in them. Man did I ever hate those hand me down clothes and being the next to the youngest that is all I ever got. Fortunately we never needed our dress up clothes very often because we rarely went any where. There were very few hand me down work clothes because they were all pretty much used up by the original wearer. As we got old enough to work out as day labor we had our own money to buy some fairly decent clothes. I stayed out of school for two weeks and worked in order to buy my graduation suit. I already had missed the first two weeks of school. Because I was in North Dakota working in the harvest fields. I guess I probably didn’t get very good grades and that may be why I’m not so bright. I did have passing grades and got a signed High School Diploma. Earl Battles went to Des Moines and bought a 1927 Pontiac, this is in 1937, so the car would be ten years old, and he and his brother Jiggs and I took off for North Dakota in it sharing the expenses. We only drove it thirty miles an hour, that was to keep the old engine from flying apart, and most of the roads were gravel. We drove day and night and slept in the car. Bought food in the grocery stores and ate in the car. We arrived a couple days later in, I don’t remember how long it took, Langdon North Dakota got jobs harvesting wheat. We got the humongus sum of thirty five cents an hour and our room and board and the room was an old grainery and we slept on the floor. The thirty five cents an hour was for belt time only, which meant that we only got paid when the threshing machine was running. That meant that we had to get up in the morning feed and water our horses curry and harness them hitch them up to a hay rack and drive to the field, which was sometimes three or four miles. Load up a load of wheat bundles and start pitching them into the threshing machine before our pay started. Then at night after the machine shut down we had to drive them back home unhitch and unharness them. So there was about four hours a day that we worked for nothing. I guess that you wouldn’t call that a picnic but it was still more money than we were used to making. Anyway school had started when I got back home and the school superintendent talked me into going back to school without any makeup work. So that is a brief sketch of my life in the harvest fields of North Dakota. My opinion is that the best thing that I can say about the good old days is that I am glad they are gone.
To continue reading click here. Part 6 - Life After High School
Graduation Picture 1938
To continue reading the next part click here. Part #7 - Military Service